Orioles star Machado makes seamless transition to shortstopFILE - In this March 2, 2018, file photo, Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado celebrates in the dugout after hitting a 3-run home run off Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Damien Magnifico in the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game in Sarasota, Fla. In what could be his final season with the Orioles, Machado has made a seamless move from third base to shortstop. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- This spring training has been a glorious one for Manny Machado. The new Baltimore Orioles shortstop has made a seamless transition from third base to his new position and is hitting .373 with three home runs and 16 RBIs.
''I go out there and I play,'' Machado said. ''It's my natural position. I've always been able to do it. It's just a matter of getting the repetitions. Every day that goes by, I feel better and better. I'm just looking forward to this year. It's going to be special, and I'm going to do a lot of special things over there.''
Machado is a pending free agent, and is likely to be one of the most attractive ones available next offseason. He's had fun playing with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and is trying to appreciate this year because he knows what may lie ahead.
''Me and Jon go way back. We're just excited to be right back up the middle and playing together,'' Machado said. ''This could be possibly the last year that we are, and it just takes us back to the first day that we met. I'm just looking forward to this year. We're going to do a lot of special things up the middle there and a lot of special things with this team.''
Manager Buck Showalter has been peppered with questions about Machado and his future.
''Being that good, you're always going to be scrutinized,'' Showalter said.
''Manny's had that since he was a junior or senior in high school. He's handled those expectations. I think he's embraced them, and I think he's handled that beyond his years. He's had a lot of experience at it on different settings, maybe not quite like this, but Manny almost welcomes it.
''It's like I told him, 'They don't talk about guys who aren't good players.' He knows it's part of the game. It's going to happen. He's ready for it . This is probably the best spring he's had so far, not just statistically. He's excited about getting back to his normal position.''
Machado missed much of Baltimore's spring training in 2017 when he played for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. He's hit brilliantly this year.
''I just try to be consistent,'' Machado said. ''Try to be consistent with everything every day, don't try to switch up and turn off for the day or try to look for something wrong. Try to stay with everything I've been working with this offseason, continue doing it now and going forward.''
Machado's free agency will be on everyone's mind. He'll just try and keep it out of his.
''This is the organization that drafted me. This is the organization I've played for,'' Machado said. ''I've become who I am today because of this organization. Whatever happens after this season, it's part of the business. It's part of everything. But you know what? I'm always going to have the Orioles and Baltimore in my heart.''
NOTES: 3B Tim Beckham (groin) should be ready to start the season, Showalter said. . Chance Sisco has made the club as the backup catcher. . RHP Pedro Araujo, a Rule 5 pick has also made the team. . RHPs Andrew Cashner, Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman will follow RHP Dylan Bundy in the rotation. . Showalter said that he'll consider using 1B Chris Davis as a leadoff hitter this season.